I heard the news today….Oh Boy!

I built a bookcase for a local primary school. It was a roll-around cart and employed brightly colored laminates of red, blue and yellow. I imagine it’s still there in the library, cheering up the children. What I should have constructed was a cart in shades of grey.

As I was going to work this past Christmas season, I listened to a local news story about a ‘managed care facility’ in town. [ I would call it an old folk’s home, but you know—not PC]. They were decorating the place for Christmas and had placed a traditional Christmas tree in the commons space. When they began adorning the branches with angels, and other iconic representations relevant to the birth of Jesus Christ, the management stepped in and decreed that all such symbols be removed. Globes and candy canes — ok. Crosses and nativities — verbotten. This would give offense to other religions.

Now keep in mind that this is not a public venue, where misinterpretations of the separation of church and state give rise to moral outrage at the display of the Ten Commandments in a courthouse routunda. [The noise you hear are the founding fathers spinning in their graves.] No, this is a private dwelling, much like an apartment complex, but with cooks and housekeepers. Given the demographics of the County, and the age of the residents, it is fair to say that the majority of them are Christian, with perhaps a smattering of Jews. The intrusion of such politics doesn’t generate anger in the residents as much as confusion.

In their time, the Catholic boys in New York would operate the elevators for the observent Jews on Saturday. Jewish employees would mind the stores while Christians went to church on Christmas. And as much as anything, each of them would at least respect the other’s religion, with at most a “Well, they’re a little strange, those Jews [Baptists, Methodists, Amish, ‘other’]”.

How can people celebrate ‘diversity’ when they seem intent to eliminate every cultural and religious aspect that makes diverse cultures interesting and reduce people’s existence to the least common and least interesting denominator — a shade of grey. What we should be doing is respecting other celebrations and rejoycing in watching others rejoyce in whatever inspires them. I am not Catholic, but my favorite piece of music is a 1610 Vespers, and when performed in a church resplendent with stained glass and liturgical symbology, one cannot help but be awed by the human effort to the spiritual .

Grey’s my favorite color. I felt so symbolic yesterday.

Counting Crows, Mr. Jones

During this past season I wanted to listen to Claudio Monteverdi at St. Johns, watch them light the candles on the menorah over Chanukkah, watch the feast of Idul Fitri in Jakarta, and in general participate in all of the wonderful things that make cultures and traditions unique — and not be symbolically grey.

Giving offense to no one offends all.

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